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Thors: Need for Speed in Processing Asylum Seekers

Immigration Minister Astrid Thors says she’s concerned about crowded immigration reception centres and the current snail's pace at which asylum permits are being processed. The Minister’s comments come in the wake of an explosive growth in the number of asylum seekers entering Finland since last year.

Image: YLE

Currently all detention centres in Finland are packed to capacity with authorities receiving more residents than they can officially accommodate.

The large influx of refugees has created bottlenecks in the processing time, with applicants queuing for months before the first interviewed by police and immigration officials. Minister Thors has called for more resources for the authorities to expedite processing of residence and refugee permits. Government will consider the proposal at the end of January.

More Municipal Funding

Thors has also called for a higher level for municipalities hosting refugees. Many municipalities have refused to take in more refugees, because compensation paid by the state for refugees has remained at the same level since 1993.

The Minister pointed out that there had been an increase in student grants, while municipalities have had to manage increasing costs with the same level of state support. The state compensates municipalities in part for expenses related to accommodation, health care and day care services.

Increase in Influx of Asylum Seekers

Last year the number of asylum seekers arriving in Finland jumped to 4,000, compared to 1,505 in 2007. Unstable situations in Iraq and Somalia helped push the numbers up.

Interior Ministry Immigration Director Sirkku Päivärinne said that this year those numbers could increase to as much as 6,000. Refugees must reside at reception centres until they are granted a residence or asylum permit.

Sources: YLE

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